In a world of anthropomorphic animals, the dividing line is between the carnivores and herbivores, and in this world, eating meat is a felony. The “Beastar” is a hero who begins as a school leader. He or she transcends all the mistrust and discrimination that defines life in this world, and then, graduates to become some kind of great public figure who is a world leader. At the high school, Cherryton Academy, the dividing line is between predator and prey, as Legoshi, a gray wolf learns.
As Beastars, Vol. 2 (Chapters 8 to 16) opens, Legoshi is on the school building roof where the “Garden Club” grows the plants and flowers used to decorate for school events. He is alone with the club's only member, Haru, a Netherland dwarf rabbit, and her scent is driving Legoshi crazy. However, he is about to discover that she is quite interested in him.
Meanwhile, “Drama Club” president, Louis the red deer, wrestles with his inner demons as he prepares to play the title role in the play, “Adler.” Legoshi knows something is wrong with Louis, but before he can confront Louis, the red deer confronts him. Louis is not the only one questioning whether the gray wolf is keeping it real.
[This volume includes bonus comics and illustrated text pieces about the design and world of Beastars and about the creative team.]
THE LOWDOWN: The Beastars manga had a debut that surprised me. I had never heard of it, and did not know what to expect. I thought Beastars had potential, and the potential is already coming to fruition with this second volume.
Beastars Graphic Novel Volume 2 opens with a tense and engaging meeting or get-together involving Legoshi and Haru the rabbit. There are some surprising turns of events in this scenario – that I don't want to spoil, dear reader. However, the bulk of Vol. 2 involves the backstage drama in the Drama Club, with a focus on Legoshi, Louis, and the emerging character, Bill the Bengal tiger.
Creator Paru Itagaki seems intent on delving into her characters' inner lives – the emotions and especially their secret wants, needs, and perhaps, lusts. Itagaki is not afraid to tackle the interiors of multiple characters, especially considering that there is so much going on in Legoshi.
The exterior and interpersonal relationships also make for invigorating drama because the expert translation by Tomoko Kimura and the bold English adaptation by Annette Roman. They will likely be the reason that this manga/graphic novel series starts to get award notice in America. But it is also time that our manga letterers get some respect. Beastars would be less delightfully different without the work of letterer Susan Daigle-Leach.
I READS YOU RECOMMENDS: Readers looking for exceptional anthropomorphic comics and manga will definitely want to try the VIZ Signature title, Beastars.